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American Institute in Taiwan

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) serves as the de-facto embassy of the United States in the Republic of China on Taiwan. It was created by the Taiwan Relations Act after severing ties with the ROC in 1979. Although it is a nominally private organization, it is authorized to perform functions normally carried on by an embassy, including issuing visas. The staff consists nominally of private citizens, but these are officials of the United States Department of State who are technically on leave, although they continue to collect seniority. The funding for the AIT comes exclusively from the United States government.

The headquarters of the AIT is in Washington, D.C. and the AIT is headed by a chairman who resides there. The AIT also has an office in Taipei and a branch in Kaohsuing. The Director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute on Taiwan serves the functions normally associated with an ambassador. The current Taipei office Director is Douglas H. Paal, and the current Chairman of the AIT is Therese Shaheen.

The AIT exists because the United States as part of the one China policy does not officially recognize the Republic of China as the government of Taiwan and hence cannot open an actual embassy there.

See also: Foreign relations of Taiwan, Political status of Taiwan

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